Instructor: Dean Karpowicz
Office: Comm Arts 251
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 11-12:15, 5-6pm or by appt.
Office Phone: 595-2672
Class Objectives: In this class we will study some of the major authors of the postmodern movement with a view toward understanding the major trends and themes within that movement. These trends will include the breaking of modern form, the revision and revisiting of history, the clash of pop culture and high culture within literature, the revision of literary tradition, and elements of technoculture within literature. We will also look at some of the theory involved in the postmodern movement, and film will be incorporated into the class at several stages throughout the semester. Most scholars are apprehensive to tie a specific definition to the term “postmodernism” as it applies to a distinct body of work separated from, say, the modernist movement. However, through the course of the semester, we will begin to understand the literary, social, philosophical, technological, and sometimes nonsensical elements within the texts we examine.
Class Work: Our reading will consist of six novels and several shorter readings that I have chosen to accompany those novels. While we are reading only six major works, the reading is dense. You will notice that the syllabus does not outline specific page numbers in reading assignments. This is because I do not try to rush through material, and if we do not cover it in class, it will not appear on the test. The shorter readings will consist of short stories and essays that will hopefully illuminate some of the major themes discussed in class. Students will be required to write a response to each of the major texts. Responses need not be major papers, and some of the topics for responses will be given by me. There will be a mid-term and a final exam that will be given in two parts: take-home essay and in-class exam. I will give out the essay questions for each exam at least a week in advance of the in-class, and no outside sources are required for the essay portion. However, specific references to elements of the texts examined should be included. The in-class exam will consist of identifications and short answer questions. There will also be a major paper due by the end of the semester. This paper will run 10-15 pages in length and some outside sources will be required. All major papers should be done in MLA style. I don’t normally do quizzes; however, if it is evident that the class is not reading, they are an option.
Texts Grading Breakdown
Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions Exam 1
Pynchon, V. --Essay 15%
Nabokov, Pale Fire --Class 15%
Delillo, White Noise Exam 2
Antoni, Divina Trace --Essay 15%
Morrison, Beloved --Class 15%
***Supplemental reading will be assigned in class Major Paper 20%
Attendance: Regular attendance is both expected and required.
--More than three absences will affect your class participation/attendance grade.
--Any student with more than six absences should not expect to pass the class.
--Quizzes cannot be made up.
--Only in EXTREME emergencies can exams be made up (documentation needed)
--University function with required attendance will not count toward absenses.
--This can likely be the easiest “A” of the semester.
***Plagiarism will result in an automatic zero for the assignment and can result in a zero for the course.
Introduction to the Class.
--Policies, procedures, etc. Brief introduction to postmodernism.
--Discussion of Modernism v. Postmodernism
Reading: “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism,” Barthelme, “Flight of Pigeons from the Palace” Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse”
Writing: Short response to material.
History. The Familiar Narrative. Culture and Literature.
Reading: Coover, “The Babysitter” Delillo, White Noise
Fact Meets Fiction. Pop-Culture’s Fascination with “Real” Narratives.
Reading: Excerpt “Simulacra and Simulation,” O’Brien “How to Tell a True War Story,” Barthelme “The Joker’s Greatest Triumph”
Film: video selections (Lynch)
Breaking Traditional Narrative Form.
Film: Pulp Fiction
Reading: Barthelme “Sentence,” Vonnegut Breakfast of Champions
Meaning in Our Texts
Reading: Pynchon, V.
Meaning and Culture.
Reading: Antoni, Divina Trace, Selected essays (Patteson)
Reviewing, Revision, and History.
Reading: Morrison, Beloved
Revising Literary Tradition.
Reading: Nabokov, Pale Fire
Technoculture and Postmodernism
Selected readings and Video